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Consumer Reports: Medical implants should come with warranties

In the last decade, roughly 750,000 people in the United States received metal-on-metal hip implants. At first these devices were expected to be more durable than plastic and ceramic implants, but that simply wasn't the case.

Metal-on-metal hip implants not only failed more often; metal flakes from the implants caused some patients to suffer a range of injuries, including neurological damage and heart damage. With that in mind, Orange County residents may be interested to learn that Consumer Reports has called for implant manufacturers to offer warranties to patients. After all, why should patients pay for the replacement of defective medical devices?

You might be surprised to hear that about 20 percent of hip replacements and 10 percent of knee replacements are procedures meant to correct a problem that should have been corrected before, and many of these surgeries are necessary because the original implant was faulty.

Consumer Reports' policy wing, Consumers Union, has called for manufacturers to guarantee replacements for defective medical devices. Too often, patients end up footing the bill for a procedure that attempts to correct a medical problem created by a defective device. Consumers Union also hopes warranties will be an incentive for manufacturers to make safer medical products.

The reality is that surgeons often tell their patients how long a replacement hip or knee is supposed to last, but if the implant doesn't hold up that long, there are currently no written guarantees for patients. Moreover, the majority of knee and hip implant devices are not subject to safety review by the Food and Drug Administration before the devices are sent to market.

Even if a warranty system isn't put in place, there are ways for injured patients to hold manufacturers accountable for defective medical devices. To learn more, please visit our Irvine defective medical device page.

Source:, "Artificial hips and knees need a lemon law, says Consumer Reports," Joel Keehn, Sept. 10, 2013

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